The role of the CDFA® professional is to help both the client and lawyer understand how the financial decisions made today will impact the client’s financial future, based on certain assumptions.
A CDFA® professional is someone who comes from a financial planning, accounting or legal background and goes through an intensive training program to become skilled in analyzing and providing expertise related to the financial issues of divorce. The CDFA® professional becomes part of the divorce team, providing litigation support for the lawyer and client, or becomes a member of a Collaborative Law team.
In either event, the CDFA® professional will be responsible for:
• Identifying the short and long-term effects of dividing property
• Integrating tax issues
• Analyzing pension and retirement plan issues
• Determining if the client can afford the matrimonial home, and if not, what might be an affordable alternative
• Evaluating the client’s insurance needs
• Establishing assumptions for projecting inflation and rates of return
• Bringing an innovative and creative approach to settling cases
• The amount and duration of spousal support
• Setting up a budget for life after divorce
The CDFA® professional also:
• Provides the client and lawyer with data that shows the financial effect of any given divorce settlement
• Appears as an expert witness if the case should go to court, or in mediation or arbitration proceedings
• Is familiar with tax issues that apply to divorce
• Has background knowledge of the legal issues in divorce
• Collects financial and expense data
• Helps clients identify their future financial goals
• Develops a budget
• Sets retirement objectives
• Identifies what kind of lifestyle they want and can afford
• Determines the costs of their children’s education
One of the biggest barriers to resolving a divorce case is misunderstanding finances. Many couples don’t know what their assets are really worth, which can be stressful to divorcing spouses or parents that are worried about how they will cover expenses on one rather than two incomes. A CDFA® can help spouses create reasonable expectations for the cost of supporting family members and covering personal living expenses following a divorce.
Top 5 Reasons for Hiring a CDFA® During the Divorce Process
1) Financial analysis conducted early in the divorce process can save time.
The average length of the U.S. divorce process is one year. In the beginning stages of the process, both parties spend a great deal of time trying to get a clear understanding of the financial aspects and terminology of the separation. A Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® (CDFA®) professional can explain all financial aspects of the pending decisions and help to empower their client to make educated decisions throughout the proceedings.
2) A CDFA® can help their client save money during the divorce process.
By using a CDFA professional, you can have a clearer view of your financial future. Only then can you approach a legal settlement that fully addresses your financial needs and capabilities. A legal settlement that floats back and forth between attorneys, without the client having a clear understanding of all financial ramifications, can be detrimental, time consuming and expensive. CDFA® professionals can educate their clients by providing a
thorough knowledge and understanding of the often-complicated financial decisions.
3) A CDFA® can help his/her clients to avoid long-term financial pitfalls related to divorce agreements.
Working with a client and their attorney, a CDFA® professional can forecast the long-term effects of the divorce settlement. This includes details of all tax liabilities and benefits. Developing a long-term forecast for their financial situation is far better than a short-term snapshot. Financial decisions must be made that not only take care of immediate family
needs, but retirement needs as well.
4) CDFA® professionals can assist their clients with developing detailed household budgets to help avoid post-divorce financial struggles.
A CDFA® professional can help clients think through what the divorce will really cost in the long run and develop a realistic monthly budget during the financial analysis process. Expenses such as life insurance, health insurance and cost of living increases must be taken into consideration when agreeing on a final financial settlement.
5) Using a CDFA® professional can reduce the amount of apprehension and misunderstanding about the divorce process.
Misinformation and misconceptions about the divorce process can be detrimental. Many have false expectations that they will be able to secure a divorce settlement allowing them to continue with their accustomed style of living. Financial divorce analysis helps to ensure a good, stable economic future and prevent long-term regret with financial decisions made
during the divorce process.